I have three projects in hand, four, I suppose, if I count the fact that next year’s Shakespeare syllabus is going to focus on what are commonly called The Problem Plays, namely Troilus and Cressida, All’s Well that Ends Well and Measure for Measure but I don’t really need to turn my thoughts in that direction until the beginning of September. The other projects are more pressing.
One I can, at the moment, do very little about. I’m signed up for a Summer Course delivered on-line on Science Fiction. That begins in just over a week but I was told when I registered that I wouldn’t get any further information until seven days before it started, so until next Monday I’m stuck where that is concerned. Once I get the details be sure I shall be back for further help.
However, my own Summer School, focused on literature set in India, is now only five weeks away and although it is not supposed to be in anyway academic I’d like to do some background reading just to support the other members of the group if it should become necessary to wander into more general discussion about the subject.
The three novels we are reading are Paul Scott’s Staying On, Ruth Prawer Jhabvala’s Heat and Dust and Rohinton Mistry’s Such a Long Journey. This isn’t an area of fiction that I’ve ever taught, so although I’ve read several other novels set in the same location and by similar writers, I haven’t had cause to look for any critical discussion relating to this area. A brief glance through the publishers’ lists to which I would normally turn hasn’t shown up anything like the Beginner’s Guide that would be appropriate so I’m wondering if anyone out there knows of such a survey. Don’t worry if you think it’s something that might be difficult to get hold of. I have access to a major University library and might be able to borrow difficult to source books or articles that way.
Then in the Autumn I’m introducing a group to the Egyptian writer, Ahdaf Soueif, which is a bit of a cheek because I’ve only read her Booker short-listed novel The Map of Love myself. However, I have heard her speak on the radio on several occasions since the onset of the Arab Spring and I want to explore her works further. Committing myself to discussing her books with a group of accomplished readers is one certain way of ensuring I do that. I have copies of her other novel, In the Eye of the Sun and her short story collections, Aisha and Sandpiper. I also have her non-fiction discussion of the experience of living in Egypt over the last twelve months on order. What I was wondering was whether any of you knew of articles or chapters in books that offered a critical perspective on her work. Something, perhaps, that would enable me to place her in respect of other Arab authors exploring either similar or very different themes.
This is all very cheeky of me, but I hope you know I would be happy to help myself if any of you had requests in my own areas of expertise. So, a big thank you in advance and I’d better get my head down and do some reading.